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The dialog finds Plato's mentor and narrative mouthpiece imprisoned and awaiting execution, a result of the trial in which he was found guilty of corrupting the youth of Athens. Crito, a friend of Socrates, has come to prison to visit the condemned man and to advocate that Socrates escape from jail. Socrates will have none of it, and instead engages Crito in one of Socrates' famous dialogs, all in an effort to prove that Socrates can not flee the punishment of Athens in a way that does not do serious injustice. To justify his claims, Socrates introduces the character of the Laws, voice of the legal charter of Athens. The Laws ask Socrates to stay where he is, to avoid even thinking about escape, since doing so would invite the utter ruination of Athens as a whole: “Do you imagine,” the Laws inquire, “that a city can continue to exist and not be turned upside down, if the legal judgments which are pronounced in it have no force but are nullified and destroyed by private persons” (Plato 50a-b)? If anyone could simply escape their punishment whenever it didn't suit their own desires, they would be bending laws past their breaking point, since punishment would never have any meaning. Socrates concludes that such a stance is unacceptable. To explain his position to Crito, who is obviously predisposed to the opposite position, Socrates offers a couple of analogies, each of which highlight Socrates's subordinate relationship to the Laws. The law, he contends, is like a father or a master, and Socrates is the child or the slave—in either instance, neither the child nor the slave have the legal right to retaliate against the parent or master simply because they did not like their treatment in one particular instance. In a similar fashion, Socrates benefited from the laws regarding marriage and childrearing, and he cannot simply pick and choose such that he gains all the benefits but suffers none of the consequences. It helps his claim that the Laws have been personified, thus making a set of very diverse laws seem as if they were crafted together and objectively (which seems unlikely) and Socrates clearly believes that because one cannot separate out the Laws one wants to obey from the Laws one does not, then one must submit to the force of law in general. This is true even if the law ultimately produces an unfair, or even unjust outcome. The price of that one small injustice does not justify committing a graver injustice by disobeying. I believe that the logical result of the Platonic view is nothing less than authoritarianism. There exists little wiggle room in Plato's formulation; the law commands and the citizen obeys. Socrates argues that the greater injustice comes from violating the laws, but what is the threshold at which such a statement can be made? If the state orders the infanticide of second or third-born children because of concerns over population density, or if the federal government declares that cancer patients can only take marijuana if it comes in a pharmaceutical company's pill form rather than an inexpensive and more effective joint, does one really have to just shrug their shoulders and obey? ...Show more


Escape from the Long Arm of the Law Hardly a matter of abstract philosophical or moral reasoning, the relationship between the law and those governed by that law is of grave importance today. With the U.S. government authorizing “enhanced” surveillance techniques and “enhanced” interrogation procedures, the time has come to consider whether one's response to the state deserves its own form of “enhancement.” In considering this question, I will explore three figures: the Socrates of Plato's Crito, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Albert Camus…
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Crito Essay essay example
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